Seed financing for a startup fighting drug resistant infections

07.12.2018 10:12

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Danuta Cichocka, Grzegorz Gonciarz

Resistell has closed an oversubscribed seed financing round. Lead Investor Occident Group AG, Hemex AG and six other private investors invested in the EPFL spin-off developing the world’s fastest phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility test.

700,000 people die each year due to drug resistant infections. It’s a problem which is exacerbated by the fact that many patients aren’t prescribed the correct antibiotic on time. To positively influence the course of treatment, it is essential to speedily determine which antibiotics the microbe still responds to. The start-up Resistell has been able to achieve reliable results of this kind many times faster than conventional antibiotic sensitivity tests. The movements of living bacteria from the sample are captured using nanotechnology and Atomic Force Microscopy-based techniques. If an effective antibiotic is applied, the bacteria die, and their movements cease. The Resistell method takes only hours to complete instead of the usual timescale of days. Patients can be treated with the right medication from day one.

CHF2 million in non-dilutive funding
The EPFL and the Resistell team of physicists, physicians and microbiologists have been researching the development of the diagnostic tool since 2012. The inventors, Prof. Giovanni Dietler and Dr. Sandor Kasas, have raised over 2 million CHF in non-dilutive funding from EPFL, Gebert Rüf Foundation and the SNSF National Research Programme "Antimicrobial Resistance" (NRP 72) for the technology development. Using those funds, the proof-of-concept, 3rd
 generation prototype and first successful test on samples from University Hospital in Lausanne (CHUV) have been achieved. The start-up has also been supported by Venture Kick.

The right investors
Resistell AG was incorporated in April 2018 in Basel to take the technology to the next level and to transfer the laboratory prototypes into a Minimal Viable Product that could be easily operated by laboratory technicians in hospital laboratories. In the long-term, Resistell is aiming to become the Gold Standard in phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing. In summer 2018 the European patent for the device and method was granted. With that, Resistell was perfectly placed to raise the funds needed for the next development stage. “It has been extremely important for Resistell, to attract investors who not only have the financial capacity to help us further develop the product but who also understand the importance of making the technology available to the physicians who fight for the lives of patients with antibiotic-resistant infections every day. And we have succeeded.” – said the CEO, Danuta Cichocka. Investors include Occident Group and Hemex. According to a post on the Venture Kick website Resistell has generated CHF750,000.

Mr. Derek Brandt, CEO at & Senior Global Vice President at Sensile Medical AG (recently acquired by Gerresheimer) and Mr. Michal Bartos, CEO at ARTO AG, Business Angel and former Vice-President at Merck, have joined the Board of Directors. Prof. Gilbert Greub, Head of Microbiology Diagnostics at CHUV and Director of the Institute of Microbiology at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) is a Chief Scientific Advisor at Resistell. He has enabled the creation of a dedicated Atomic Force Microscopy laboratory in the Institute of Microbiology, where the Resistell’s devices are currently being tested.

After the closing of this round, Resistell is moving to the new premises in Muttenz.

(Press release)

Picture: Dr. Danuta Cichocka, CEO, co-founder and Grzegorz Gonciarz, COO (from left)
 
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